Thomas Donlan of Barron’s assesses the recent controversy involving corporate CEOs and President Trump.

When business leaders leap into bed with politicians, they think they will gain influence and respect. Thus, they become members of the oldest profession, and they run the risk of catching a serious social disease.

Although we give some credit to Kenneth C. Frazier, CEO of Merck, for being the first to leave the president’s other forum, the American Manufacturing Council, it’s more useful to ask what he and his fellow CEOs were doing on it in the first place. They couldn’t help the cause of lower taxes and less regulation by becoming “useful idiots.”

Now that it’s too late, do they know they were being used by a politician whose primary standard of value is loyalty to him personally? Do they realize that most politicians embrace business leaders for the same corrupt reasons that the business leaders embrace the politicians? Donald Trump is just louder and speaks his mind without shame.

Trump warned them and us when he was a nascent politician: “The politicians in America are all taken over by the lobbyists,” and “one of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

Too bad the CEOs on the manufacturing council and the policy forum didn’t think more carefully about that last one.